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Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price sprawls in front of a leaping Ottawa Senators' Mika Zibanejad (93) during third period NHL playoff action in Ottawa, Sunday, April 26, 2015.Adrian Wyld

There will be complaints about the whistle, of course.

And perhaps there must be some hand-wringing over Ottawa Senators' coach Dave Cameron waiting until Game 3 before inserting goalie Craig Anderson.

What Ottawa supporters – or hockey fans in general – shouldn't be, however, is surprised.

The Montreal Canadiens recorded 50 wins this season, enough to earn the second playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, and they mostly followed a familiar game-plan: do your thing guys, and don't worry, we've got Carey Price.

This is a team that often has the analytics community scratching its heads: you're not supposed to be good when you're consistently out-chanced and out-shot, and when you don't score much while playing five-on-five.

Call it the Price effect.

When Montreal took it to the Senators, dominated possession, fired shots from everywhere and tried to skate Ottawa into the ground, they lost. Twice.  It didn't help that many of the shots weren't all that threatening and that their special teams were brutal.

Then the Habs went back to the familiar recipe, and it worked.

"If you watched our team this year that's pretty standard for us, we get a goal, get up and we're able to lock it down," said winger Brendan Gallagher. "We would like to be a little more aggressive at times in the game but they came hard, they weren't going to give up."

Great goaltending can paper over all manner of flaws, and there can be no arguing the Habs are far from perfect.

To point to just one flaw: the familiar zone exit strategy – dump the puck out of the zone, hopefully retrieve it, dump it into the other end, hopefully retrieve it – is prone to gifting opportunities to a swashbuckling team like, say, the Erik Karlsson-led Senators.

No one in a Montreal uniform cares about aesthetics or stats, though. They're still playing and Ottawa isn't.

They also know everything there is to know about Price, who after giving up five goals in his most recent opportunity to end the Sens' storybook season, was determined to get it done on Sunday.

"There's a reason he's our best player," said forward Max Pacioretty.

The 27-year-old Price may have looked a tiny bit nervy on the first saves he was called upon to make – after some early Montreal pressure to open the game, he stopped Milan Michalek and Alex Chiasson in quick succession from the slot.

From there, he was firmly in control.

It's true that Ottawa should have tied the game on Jean-Gabriel Pageau's diving shot later in the first, but Chris Lee's hasty whistle took care of that (he had lost sight of the puck).

"I think the referee there just had bad puck luck," said Cameron, who was the very picture of class in defeat.

Ottawa and Montreal fans now have a point of commonality: scorching-hot hatred of Lee (he is frequently accused of bias against the Habs).

From there, it was the Price Goaltending Clinic.

He denied Kyle Turris on a two-on-one, he thwarted Michalek on a tip, then stopped Patrick Wiercioch, Mike Hoffman, Bobby Ryan. He stopped Pageau. He stopped Erik Condra. High shots, low shots, jam plays, he stopped them.

In the third, a shot caromed first off defenceman P.K. Subban, then off Andrei Markov's skate in front of the net, Price saw the puck as it skittered toward his net and calmly covered it.

As the Sens tried desperately to find an equalizer, he turned away nine shots in the last three minutes of the game, a couple of them gilt-edged and beribboned.

The wild and woolly conclusion notwithstanding, Montreal's defence did a far better job of allowing Price to see what was unfolding in front of him.

There were few moments where he couldn't get a sight-line on the puck, this was the result of effort and some strategic tinkering.

"We did a good job of boxing out today . . . (Price) battled hard, we wanted to get this one for him," said Subban, who had a few anxious moments and didn't have an especially distinguished series (and the less said about partner Markov's showing against the Sens, the better).

Ottawa could have sagged after the disallowed goal, but it's almost as if they realized they had more than two periods to erase it; Ottawa out-shot the Habs 43-14 after recording their first shot at the 9 minute mark of the first.

The Senators were done in partly because of a Habs-like power-play – zero goals and four shots on four power-plays, three of which came on their final man-advantage in the third period.

Coming into the game, Ottawa had the post-season's second-best power-play, five of their 12 goals in the series came with a Montreal player in the box.

The Senators also lost the series because of goaltending mistakes by rookie Andrew Hammond in the first two games.

But there is also this: five of the six games in this set were decided by one goal, and Ottawa was able to win only one.

"We won close hockey games, that was the difference: we were able to bear down . . . it speaks to the character of our team," Gallagher said.

So after having a serious fright thrown into them by the Senators, the Montreal Canadiens are through to the second round.

It wasn't pretty. It didn't have to be.